Industrial hemp cultivation is permissible and legal in Ireland. However, cultivating hemp in Ireland requires a license to be granted by the Department of Health and Children and renewed annually.
Farmers must meet specific conditions, the most critical being that plantations may not be located near public roads, and all plants must meet the criteria of 0.2% or less THC.
What Licenses Should a New Hemp Cultivator Apply For?
A license may be granted under Ireland’s medical cannabis program, and it is best to apply to one of these licenses, according to the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA):
- Manufacture of any controlled drugs listed in the schedules (annual license, renewed yearly)
- Supply, import, export, or possess a controlled drug in Schedules 1 and 2 (annual license, renewed yearly)
- Supply, import, export, or possess a controlled drug in Schedules 3, 4, and 5 (registration)
What Is the Role of the HPRA?
The mission of the HPRA is “to protect and enhance public and animal health,” and part of its role is to process licenses to cultivate hemp in Ireland on behalf of the Department of Health and Children. Every year, the HPRA accepts and reviews applications to grant licenses to new hemp cultivators.
The scope of its mission is to also answer questions regarding current legislation around hemp cultivation and market surveillance of hemp products, including cosmetics and medicinal claims that are not permitted.
HPRA Hemp Cultivation License Application Tips
Like any application, there will be several sections for you to fill out:
- Applicant Details: You will need to provide your name, any aliases, trade names, address, eircode, email address, and telephone number. You must also know the acreage of land to be farmed.
- Details of Proposed Crop Locations: Regarding your crop locations, all you need to supply is the address, including townlands and eircode, as well as an ordnance survey map showing the growing site. The scale for the map should be 1:2,500, and you must provide the ITM coordinates for the sites.
- Details of Seeds: What variety of seeds will you sew? The application will require you to provide a true copy of the original label of each seed variety. You will need to keep the original copy of the seed’s label for at least two years after your application. Should your license be granted, the original label copy may be requested during an inspection of your crop and growing site.
Don’t forget to list the name and address of the supplier on your application form.
You must include the herd number for the land and the total area of hemp in hectares (which may not fall under 0.3 hectares, i.e., 0.74 acres). You must note that you can confirm that you are the landowner, and if your land is rented, you must supply a copy of the rental agreement, signed by both the lessor and lessee (duly witnessed).
Additionally, be prepared to explain the proposed security arrangements for the land and crops. These details should include the boundary fencing/planting that surrounds the crop locations. Legal guidelines state that your hemp crop must be planted away from the public rights of way, from vehicular access and schools. It should not be visible from the road.
- Details of End Use of Crop: You must provide the name and address of the end-user of the hemp crop, along with a copy of the end-processing contract if that differs from you, the applicant.
List the intended purpose of the end-use, to include a description of any processing of the crop for end-use. Explain the details that will apply to cosmetics, for example. The application notes that onward supply of the mature stalk of the hemp plant, fiber produced from the mature stalk, or the hemp plant seed are permitted.
Don’t forget to list all proposed methods used for the destruction of the waste crop.
The application to be a new hemp cultivator sounds involved, but when you have the proper information in order, it’s an easy process to complete the application for licensing.
Hemp Cultivator Licensing in Summary
According to the HPRA, licenses to cultivate hemp in Ireland have grown exponentially and are still on the rise. In 2016, the organization granted seven licenses and 60 in 2019. Most applications received and granted have been for cultivating the Finola seed type.
So, ensure that you decide on the details of hemp cultivation as early as possible. If you have any questions, HPRA asks that you inquire with them at [email protected], as answering such queries is one of the major scopes of their mission. Then, you complete the application form, as described above, and double-check all details to ensure you will be able to comply with the license.
To remain compliant, ensure that you have provided the seed label to the HPRA within 21 days. Keep clear records of the dates and area of sowing, dates, area of harvesting, and the details of onward supply. Be prepared for inspections, and always inform the HPRA of any thefts or losses that occur.
Don’t Forget to Apply for a LONO
You will need to renew your license annually. In addition to your annual license or registration, an import/export license is required. This other license is known as a Letter of No Objection (LONO), and the LONO must be obtained to accompany every import or export consignment.
To obtain a LONO, the HPRA indicates that “the company responsible for the physical import/export must apply for an import/export licence on NDSWeb. To obtain a LONO for schedule 4 part 2, the company responsible should also apply via NDSWeb.”
To apply via NDSWeb, you should first reach out to [email protected], and information available at the HRPA. To clarify, you cannot apply for a LONO without first holding an annual license or registration.
To legally grow hemp in Ireland, one must apply for an annual license or registration with the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA). Remember that only EU-certified seed crops can be grown, and these must contain at or below 0.2% THC. By following these steps, you will have all the information you need at your fingertips when you are ready to apply and get approved for your license.